NEW ORLEANS -- Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Mayor Mitch Landrieu welcomed the Police Department's first recruit class of the year Wednesday.
Twenty-nine cadets are making their way through their police academy, but some experts say it's like putting a finger in a hole a the dam.
“We're one of the first cities in America to add recruit classes and we're adding two this year,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
In fact, Superintendent Serpas used the example of Louisiana State Police, as they haven’t held a recruit class since 2008. According to State Police Spokesman Captain Doug Cain, the State Police force was 1150 after that recruit class graduated. There are now roughly 960 State Troopers on the force. They traditionally lose about 50 a year to attrition.
Serpas said the City Council gave him the go-ahead to hire 100 new officers this year, but this week, in late-may, the first recruit class of 2013 began.
“We are currently working new cadets, recruit candidates for the next class that we would like to do in 2013. I don't know, if we got a lot of interest, I wouldn't mind trying to do a third class,” Serpas said.
Right now the NOPD has 1260 officers, according to Serpas. According to NOPD Spokeswoman, Officer Hilal Williams, 112 officers left the force in 2011. According to Serpas, police forces the NOPD's size lose anywhere between 100 to 115 annually.
"Even putting an academy class through with 30, 35 people in. At the end of the year, you have have lost more than that. So each year we are running a deficit of police officers… At this point, I don't even know if we are putting the band-aid on it" said Anthony “Tony” Radosti with the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
“Calls for service are being affected. Response times are being affected. The ability to get quality investigations are being affected because the officers are just given too much to do with too little resources to do it,” said Raymond Burkart III, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police.
While no one denies the new recruit class is good news, even Serpas admitted that analysis has shown he needs some 300 more officers.
“In 2011, we did a deep-dive analysis using state-of-the-art techology to predict the size of the police department and we predicted then that 1575 was the number that we'd like to have to be a middle-of-the-road Chevy,” Serpas said Wednesday.
He said he's hoping this will be the first year in three that the number of cops stays 1,260 after three straight years of net loss. The Superintendent said he had to re-activate the recruiting arm of the department in January, and that's why it took until late May to get the first class underway.
Serpas included the 29-person recruit class in the current number of officers. They will not be out on the streets for about a year.